When did Google start it's journey?
Google.com was registered on September 15, 1997, only 20 years ago. It's hard to believe since we can't remember life before online search. Google has continuously evolved to organize and aggregate online information to present the "best possible truth" to its users.
2000 - 2009 On-Page Optimization
In its first decade of existence, Google sought to organize mainly content from websites - in particular paying attention to keywords, headers, descriptions, etc. contained on web pages. Businesses that were first online with well-organized websites were typically the winners in the early days of the emerging field of SEO.
This gave rise to the term "on-page optimization". Marketers created ways to trick the system by employing techniques like keyword stuffing, or hidden text (e.g., white text on white backgrounds) as a way to improve their search ranking. As a result, Google evolved.
2010 - 2015 Off-Page Optimization
As the internet matured and more and more websites were established, Google changed its algorithm to pay more attention to the interaction (i.e., links) between different websites. In essence, Google awarded higher rankings to websites that had more inbound links from other websites. It also started to evaluate and reward based on relevance of linking websites.
This was a significant improvement, but also gave rise to new marketing tactics such as article marketing, link farms (setting up multiple websites only for the purpose of creating inbound links to other sites) and blog networks.
Validation & Reference
In recent years, Google updates have focused much more on quality (over quantity) of inbound links, It places much higher significance to the reputation of sites providing references. Moreover, as we have previously discussed, the increasing adoption of mobile devices has enabled search algorithms to prioritize results based on location relevance.
As well, Google is placing more emphasis on the "freshness" of content (i.e., how often online information about a business is updated). In essence, it's measuring the "heartbeat" of a business to ensure business owners are paying attention to their online profiles.
Going forward, changes to Google's algorithms will continue. It's important to evolve your online strategy to respond to these changes. Unfortunately, a set-it-and-forget-it approach is unlikely to keep you ahead of your competition.
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